Is chicken meal in dog food bad? What is it?  Why is there confusion surrounding this ingredient? In this article, we will answer these questions and unravel the mystery pertaining to this ingredient. Furthermore, we will touch on these items:

  • What Is Chicken Meal?
  • Is It Healthy For Our Dogs?
  • Chicken vs. Chicken Meal … Which One Provides More?
  • Chicken Meal & Chicken … 3 Healthy Choices
  • Final Word

chicken meal


What Is Chicken Meal?

The best way to define this term comes from Wikipedia, who states it this way:

‘Chicken meal is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails. Meal here is used in the sense of “an ingredient which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.”It is mainly used in pet foods.

Chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been carefully dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. Regular chicken contains about 70% water with 18% protein and 5% fat. To create chicken meal, ingredients are placed into large vats and cooked.

This rendering process not only separates fat and removes water to create a concentrated protein product, it also kills bacteria, viruses, parasites and other organisms. Because meat can be rid of infectious agents through the rendering process, “4D” animals (dead, dying, diseased or disabled) are allowable chicken meal ingredients. While not always present, the possible inclusion of these ingredients makes chicken meal always considered unfit for human consumption.’

Is Chicken Meal A Healthy Choice For Our Dogs?

Is chicken meal in dog food

Chicken Meal … The Downside

I would answer this question with a “Yes” and a “No.” Let me explain this a bit further. Chicken meal in your pet’s food will most definitely provide a source of protein. I have written a previous article that explains the importance of protein in your dog’s diet. Furthermore, you will find ‘Chicken Meal’ listed at the top of the label ingredient as a source of protein.

But is Chicken Meal a good healthy protein source? The answer to this question is dependent on who you ask. Looking at the definition of Chicken Meal that was introduced above, there is indeed a reason to hesitate. Inthumbs cown on chicken meal addition to this, it remains nearly impossible to know exactly what ingredients are used in this chicken meal. 

To sum this up, Pawp looked at chicken meal in this manner: According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, rendered products often have the term “meal” listed in their titles (for example, “chicken meal” or “animal by-product meal”). Rendered products can be comprised of many unglamorous parts of an animal, such as offal, brain, and spleens. It also could include meat from animals that were sick, as well as expired meat from grocery stores. Because the contents of rendered products can vary, the nutritional quality can be low, and thus not very healthy for your pup.

Chicken Meal In Dog Food … The Upside

As noted earlier, chicken will provide a source of protein to our four-legged companion. Equally important, if not more so, is the fact that chicken meal provides up to 300% more protein (by volume/weight) than that of fresh chicken. That is quite a difference! 

thumbs up chickYou will often see chicken meal along with chicken itself at the top of the ingredient list. Together, these ingredients provide an adequate source of protein to your pooch. By itself, chicken meal plays a role in other benefits regarding the health of your dog. For starters, it assists and helps with the immune functions of your pet and muscle growth.

In addition to this, chicken meal is a natural source of glucosamine, which is important in ensuring healthy joints. As you can see, this ingredient does indeed provide benefits to your pooch. Just keep in mind that pound for pound, chicken meal will provide more protein than just chicken. 


Chicken Meal Vs. Chicken … Is There A Winner?

Okay, since we should now have a better understanding of ‘chicken meal,’ here’s a question: Which ingredient, chicken meal or chicken, is best for our pets? We have already determined that chicken meal provides more protein than chicken, but does this make it better?

When looking at an ingredient label, as I pointed out above, you may find both chicken and chicken meal ingredients. Keep in mind that every ingredient listed on these labels must be listed in descending order by weight. In other words, the first ingredient you see will be the heaviest one within the recipe. Chicken and or chicken meal can usually be found at the top of the ingredient label. 

The truth of the  matter is that chicken meal will provide your pet with more chicken meat than that of just chicken. It’s important to understand that chicken will include water in its natural form, whereas chicken meal through dehydration, has lost its water content. Furthermore, chicken meal will actually contain more volume (Meat). It simply provides more chicken and protein. Here’s a short video to explain this further:


In my opinion, both of these ingredients provide a healthy source of protein. Some would argue that chicken isDog with questions more ‘pure’ in its natural form and more nutritious. Others would suggest that chicken meal provides a substantial amount of more protein to your pet’s diet, preferring it to chicken. 

Over the years , I have used a number of dog food brands that contained chicken meal. These brands were popular amongst dog owners, and my dog(s) lived a long, healthy life. In addition, some of these brands included chicken meal and chicken protein, and my dogs seemed to enjoy these recipes. So the, Winner? For me, both serve a nutritional purpose and I wouldn’t be afraid of either when choosing a dog food product.

Dog Food Brands With Both Chicken & Chicken Meal

 Like I just mentioned, both chicken meal and chicken would be a nutritional source of protein. You should find both of these listed at the top of the ingredient label. For your convenience, I have listed a few brands below that contain both of these ingredients. These are brands that I trust and would recommend. Simply click on each product below for further details:

1.) Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Natural Chicken dog eating dry dog food

First two ingredients in this recipe are Chicken and Chicken Meal.

2.) American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato

First two ingredients are Deboned Chicken and Chicken Meal.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection

First two ingredients are Deboned Chicken and Chicken Meal.

Note: This article contains affiliate links and offers, and I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase one of these products.

Final Word

Thank you for visiting my site, where the health of our pets is something that I take very seriously. You should now have a better understanding of what chicken meal provides in your dog’s diet. Furthermore, the difference between chicken meal and chicken when it comes to dog food formulas.

Chicken in dog food is extremely popular in pet food formulas, an ingredient that our four legged companions seem to enjoy. In my opinion, both chicken and chicken meal will provide nutritional value. Thanks again for visiting, to the health of your pet! 







For those unfamiliar with dog food grain-free recipes, there has and is a controversy taking place as I write this article. The FDA has made public that it has launched an investigation between a possible connection between the grain-free diet and heart disease within dogs. For further information, the American Kennel Club has provided further details. Click here.


The purpose of this site and articles are intended to provide a source of entertainment and information. As a dog owner and dog lover myself, I enjoy researching dog food products on the market to provide you with helpful insights. I am not a veterinarian nor an animal nutritionist, just a dog owner who wants to provide a healthy lifestyle to their pet. I use my research to express an opinion which may or may not be one you agree with.





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